Urban Shepherds is a non profit organization promoting the grazing of sheep as a sustainable solution for managing landscaping. The benefits to the community include job creation, reducing environmental impact while lowering the cost of mowing, and producing locally grown food. Urban Shepherds also seeks to promote urban farming and increase sheep production, recruiting and training, and providing support to future shepherds.
Urban Shepherds promotes urban grass fed lamb operations. It is our mission to educate urban and suburban residents how they can start their own for profit operations. We will help you start a program in your community, finding flocks, identifying appropriate lots for sheep, help with fundraising, assisting with zoning and permitting for sites, preparing the sites for the flocks, training staff or volunteer shepherds, and securing any needed professional shepherds to oversee projects.
Learn more about how you can make money from lamb crops and save money on land management, enhance the environment, and provide social capital by managing your open spaces and vacant lands with sheep.
Mowing with sheep saves on money and labour. Sheep are your solution. In addition to reducing pollution, maintenance, use of herbicides, and gas and oil requirements, sheep fertilize while they graze, producing lean, healthy local food and wool products.
Sheep are a great interim solution for vacant city lots or any large lot. Sheep can operate in conditions like steep terrains along powerlines, and they provide holistic land management and brush and weed control through grazing. Sheep can eliminate invasive plants and restore native grasses.
An urban grazing project in your community would provide the opportunity to repurpose and manage unproductive lands through sheep grazing to leverage the environmental, economic, and social benefits associated with more productive land.
Urban Shepherds has been sucessfully helping landowners use sheep to graze or mow, fertilize, and re-seed sites in our region. These sheep ultimately serve as a local food source, as well as a source of wool products such as clothing, blankets, and art.
For the landowner, using sheep greatly reduces the cost of land management (mowing, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides) and reduces the environmental impact by replacing typical land management styles with a more natural process.
For the farmers, urban grazing offers the opportunity to extend grazing space and markets by effectively connecting the urban farming movement and consumers.
For the community, grazing provides social benefits through entertainment, education, and outreach. Schools, churches, community groups, and other agritourists “flock” to the sites, transforming unused land into interactive classrooms to educate and promote environmentalism, farming, and sustainable agriculture.
Our staff spends most of our time on educational programming.
One day workshops are given at the beginning of demonstration programs before the sheep arrive. At these initial workshop, at minimum, we expect to cover: Shepherding (what happens when), Conservation grazing (why we graze), Common sheep ailments (what you might spot), Predators and Parasites (how to protect the flock), FAMACHA Training (when to treat your sheep/goat), How to handle a sheep (what you will need to do), and Handling electric sheep netting (for rotational grazing). We will have a webpage dedicated to the project where all materials, including copies of and links to the lamb resource database, can be downloaded.
Then each week before or after assessments during the grassing season, the urban shepherds learn more in depth information in a series of classes so that by the end of the growing season, they will have covered: Where to Find Your Flock, The Shepherd’s Calendar, Reproduction and Lambing, Flock Health and Nutrition, Housing and Handling, Record Keeping and Farm Management, and Direct Marketing Lamb.
While on site, we field questions from the public and the press.
Urban Shepherds will assess sites that you have in mind and review GIS databases for additional potential sites in your region. We will also help you prepare your sites for grazing and determine stocking density and rotational grazing patterns.
Urban Shepherds has developed model zoning codes for seasonal small ruminant grazing as well as livestock urban grazing. We will help your community prepare regulations that ensure a productive grazing program.
Urban Shepherds will assist you in the process of securing funding to start up your regional program from foundations and sponsors.
We will link you with professional shepherds who will provide you with a clean flock for your grazing project.
Working with a local professional shepherd, we will train you how to care for your flock during the grazing season.
Urban Shepherds will provide you with any assistance that you need to start up your urban farming program.
Sheep offer a cost-effective alternative to mechanized or human mowers for the landowner. Mowing one acre requires two to five gallons of gasoline. Hiring a lawn cut would cost $40-$60 per week, and, sometimes, lawns need to be cut twice a week. That is as much as $120 per week per acre. Here in Ohio, grass begins growing in March and grows until the middle of October. That adds up to about 28 weeks of grass cutting over the whole season. In spring and fall, the grass needs to be cut twice per week, and during dry seasons, only every week and a half. A reasonable average would be about 32 cuttings required to maintain an acre. This can add up to over $1,900 per acre per year.
The benefits of using natural lawn mowers go beyond saved time and money. An acre of lawn can provide 600 pounds of grass forage. This is enough forage to produce about 160 pounds of lamb meat and several pounds of wool. In addition, 200 animal days of grazing creates 600 pounds of manure containing ten pounds of nitrogen and eight pounds of phosphate that are readily available for plant growth. This would be similar to the amount of fertilizer recommended for a spring treatment for the average lawn care. According to Consumer Reports, small, two-stroke engines used in conventional lawn-care equipment are big polluters. Mowing a lawn one hour per week for a summer consumes only 10 gallons of gas, but releases an average of 148 pounds of CO2 emissions per year. Furthermore, one hour on an average riding mower emits roughly the same amount of NO2, one of the key ingredients in smog, as driving a very clean new car for 75,000 miles.
Studies show that sheep mowing reduces pollution, maintenance, use of herbicides, and gas and oil requirements. Sheep fertilize while they graze and produce lean, healthy, local food and wool products. Sheep are a great interim solution for vacant city lots. Sheep can operate in conditions, like steep terrains along power lines, that men and machines cannot easily access. Sheep do not compact the soil or disturb the indigenous species. They provide holistic land management and brush and weed control through grazing. Sheep can eliminate thistle, brush, noxious weeds, and other invasive plants and restore native grasses. They are low- maintenance and very entertaining to the public. As a result, property owners are beginning to use sheep to mow lawns. The White House lawn once had sheep grazing during President Woodrow Wilson's administration to save on groundskeeping. In fact, our modern idea of lawns was born from images of European estates that were maintained by sheep. With budget challenges and fuel prices rising, this is an idea whose time has come back.